Remember Slice Soda? It’s Back — But Very Different.

Remember Slice Soda? It’s Back — But Very Different.

Why these entrepreneurs bet on nostalgia for the old soda brand. The Slice hitting the shelves in early 2019 is a 25-calorie sparkling water made purely with organic juice, and it’s based on a bet by two eagle-eyed entrepreneurs who wrested the trademark away from its original owner: Given how important branding has become, their theory goes, a startup can gain an instant advantage in the marketplace if it’s using a brand name consumers are already familiar with … even if the product is different from what they remember. This one started with lawyer Joseph Gioconda, a top IP litigator and the founder of Gioconda Law Group in New York, who has worked with Thomann on previous cases. And she says, ‘What about Slice?’ ” What about it? Could this be another brand revival? But Thomann is not a fan.) Related: This Beverage Entrepreneur Got His Start by Simply Asking a Big Company to Let Him Sell Their Products With trademark in hand, New Slice Ventures partnered with Revolution Brands, a company that develops food brands, to create the product and get it into stores. Gioconda says their own surveys found two out of three people didn’t remember the ’90s Slice. But Slice? “And if a year from now I’m drinking healthy Slice, I’ll call you and be like, ‘I’m totally wrong; this thing is delicious.’ ” Consumers will decide.

Is Your Ad Racially Insensitive? What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Missteps by Gap, Dove and H&M.
6 Steps to Automate & Streamline Business Processes to Boost Efficiency and Stimulate Growth
Stop Watching My Videos and Go out and Make Your Own Content

Why these entrepreneurs bet on nostalgia for the old soda brand.

Remember Slice Soda? It's Back -- But Very Different.

This story appears in the January 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Remember Slice?

Not the pizza. Not the Grandmaster Slice hip-hop guy.

The soft drink.

Even an answer of “kinda sorta” could mean money in the can for the people bringing back Slice, the ’90s PepsiCo pop. The twist: It won’t (sorry, diehards) deliver that sinfully sweet blast of sugary, citrusy nostalgia — nor will it be made by PepsiCo. The Slice hitting the shelves in early 2019 is a 25-calorie sparkling water made purely with organic juice, and it’s based on a bet by two eagle-eyed entrepreneurs who wrested the trademark away from its original owner: Given how important branding has become, their theory goes, a startup can gain an instant advantage in the marketplace if it’s using a brand name consumers are already familiar with … even if the product is different from what they remember.

There’s a certain illogic to this theory, but Chicago entrepreneur Mark Thomann has done it before. His company, Dormitus Brands, “pays homage to the idea of a sleeping giant that’s ready to wake up again,” he explains — which is to say, he watches for when companies allow their discontinued brands’ trademarks to lapse, and then he leaps in, claims ownership (which is perfectly legal), and revives them. He’s succeeded with Brim, which began life as a General Foods decaf staple of the ’70s (he turned it into a line of artisanal coffee equipment); the iconic audio equipment brand Aiwa (now a new electronics brand); and most recently, the Bud Light dog mascot Spuds MacKenzie (which he plans to transform into a canine health-and-wellness line).

But how far can this strategy stretch? Slice will become a useful case study.

Dumpster diving for these iconic names isn’t actually that easy. There’s no Dead Brand Digest or eBay for Trademarks that sends an alert to your inbox when a name frees up. So the journey begins with some guesswork. This one started with lawyer Joseph Gioconda, a top IP litigator and the founder of Gioconda Law Group in New York, who has worked with Thomann on previous cases. “In late February of 2016,” he recalls, “my wife and I were in the kitchen at my in-laws’, and I was talking to her about my work with Mark. And she says, ‘What about Slice?’ ” What about it? He took out his iPad and found that PepsiCo had seemingly allowed its federal trademark registration to lapse. He called and emailed the company’s customer service reps and was told that Slice had been discontinued. (PepsiCo did not respond to requests to comment.) Gioconda got excited and told Thomann of his discovery. Could this be another brand revival?

“Soda? Naaaah,” replied Thomann. But he kept thinking on it. “After a few…

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 0
DISQUS: 0